Here’s the problem we need to overcome. I’m making these numbers up, but–in my opinion–roughly 25 percent of voters follow the smoke and understand there’s probably a fire there. Possibly a big one. Another 25 percent, however–the white nationalist, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh audience of the world–would believe that Trump was born on the back of a unicorn next to the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow if it was reported from a fake news source.
That leaves 50 percent, though. Half of the country isn’t so gullible that they believe everything Breitbart and Infowars say, but they also aren’t engaged or interested enough to tell fact from fiction. Many of my friends and family honestly believe that BOTH sides are engaged in intentional misinformation, and when they see mounting evidence of collusion and treason with Russia, they shake their heads and just say they’re so tired of all the “partisan bickering”.
What baffles me is that many of the same people who had no issue buying into fabricated controversies like Behngazi-gate or Hillary’s email despite any actual facts and evidence, are more than willing to shrug off a mounting pile of both hard and circumstantial evidence from credible sources that suggest Trump and his team are working hand-in-hand with Russia. I mean, at this point it’s almost like catching someone next to a dead body with a bullet through his forehead and a man standing next to him literally holding the smoking gun while a puddle of blood forms around his feet, and saying “Well, that’s what that dead guy wants us to believe–but how do we know this is the guy who actually killed him?”
We need to figure out how to educate that 50 percent. How do we help people understand the difference between facts and “alternative facts”, between credible news and “fake news”, between partisan politics and treason?
I believe the first step is to educate them about the fact that Breitbart, Infowars, Fox News and similar fake news sources are not credible. They are purely conspiracy theory machines. They fabricate and distribute propaganda–with just enough real news to provide a hint of credibility.
CNN is largely to blame as well, though, as far as I’m concerned. Why? Well, everyone pretty much accepts that Fox is Right Wing / Conservative and MSNBC is Left Wing / Liberal–and that if you watch those channels you will get ostensibly credible information viewed through a biased lens. CNN, however, was the middle ground–the referee. In an effort to appear fair and balanced, though, it continues to hire blatant partisan hacks to represent the Conservative point of view and allow them to spew obvious lies on air on the same panel where credible sources are sharing valid information. It creates a false equivalency that makes the viewing audience feel both perspectives are equal but opposite, when the reality often is that one is right and one is a brazen lie.
Start with this chart. Share it. Share it on social media. Share it with your coworkers. Share it with your in-laws who insist that all of this Russia stuff is just nonsense invented by the left. Do what you have to do to convince more people to listen to and trust the sources in the top middle of this chart, and to absolutely reject and ignore anything beyond “skews” in either direction.
Again, you won’t ever convince the 25 percent who are part of the Trump cult. When Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” those are the people he was talking about–and he’s right. But we have to find a way to educate and reach that 50 percent that is sane and rational and does care, but just wants to live in peace and lacks the energy to be politically engaged.
I’m not suggesting that politics doesn’t have a shady side, or that morals and ethics aren’t compromised on both sides of the aisle to some extent. But, as long as a significant percentage of the population buys into the false equivalency that everything is bad and both sides are dirty, they will simply remain on the sidelines shrugging their shoulders while a band of morons cash in as treasonous oligarchs for selling out our democracy to Russia.